Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Flyers answer bell with resounding victory over Penguins

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

Staring down the barrel of a shrinking division and conference lead following a lethargic 2-1 home loss to Boston on Sunday night, the Flyers suddenly found their on switch 300 miles west.

Ville Leino scored a pair of third-period goals and totaled three points to lead Philadelphia to a 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the final regular-season meeting between the clubs at CONSOL Energy Center on Tuesday.

Scott Hartnell added a goal and one assist for the Flyers, who won for the second time in their last five and opened up a four-point edge (102-98) over their still hobbled cross-state rivals in the Atlantic Division.

"We got excited for this game today," said Leino. "It was basically a playoff game for us and I'm sure it was for them. Good road win for us today."

Philly also saw its lead atop the Eastern Conference grow to three points over Southeast-leading Washington after the Capitals' shootout loss against Carolina.

Jeff Carter and Claude Giroux also lit the lamp to back a 25-save performance from Sergei Bobrovsky as Philadelphia set a new franchise record for road wins in one season with 25. The previous mark of 24 was first set in 2002-03. 

Alex Kovalev and Tyler Kennedy tallied for the Penguins, whose four-game win streak came to an end after surrendering the final four goals of the contest.

Marc-Andre Fleury was dented for all five goals on just 24 shots in the loss.
"That puck was bouncing everywhere out there today," said Fleury. "Those bounces were ending up in the net for them and it's tough cause we're fighting them for position."
Kennedy slid the puck between Bobrovsky's pads from the right wing at 9:21 of the second period to give the Pens a 2-1 edge, but Hartnell went up high from in close on a power play at 13:45 to knot the game again.

Giroux then let rip from between the circles and scored inside the left post to give Philly a 3-2 edge only 47 seconds later.

It was a 4-2 advantage for the visitors at the 5 1/2-minute mark of the third period, when Hartnell shot from the left point and the puck caromed off Leino in front and slid past Fleury.

Leino struck again at 8:38, when his shot at the right side of the crease popped over Fleury and over the goal line before being swept out.

Pittsburgh failed to convert on three straight power-play chances down the stretch, thanks in part to Bobrovsky's 14 saves in the final 20 minutes.

Old nemesis Kovalev used his patented wrister, from the right circle off a 2-on-1 rush, to put the Penguins on the board with 7:38 left in the first period. Bobrovsky seemed to be lulled to sleep as the wily veteran waited until the last second to fire his 16th goal of the season inside the far pipe.

The Flyers drew even just after a power play expired, when Braydon Coburn's shot from the right boards hit the post, caromed off Fleury's back and trickled in with 4:04 to go. The tally was later awarded to Carter, who appeared to get a piece of the puck with his stick while providing a screen.

Notes: The Flyers won the season series, 4-1-1, and took all three games in Pittsburgh...It marked the first time since 1983-84 (4-0-0) the club finished unbeaten and untied during all of its regular-season games in the Steel City...Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen suffered a lower-body injury in the second period and did not return...Pittsburgh fell to 0-18-1 this season when trailing after two periods.

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